In football, even a deserved opportunity for a debut can get derailed in a matter of seconds, either due to a match-ending injury or just a silly red card. Nevertheless, debuts are meant to be an auspicious day in a player's career, kickstarting their professional journey.
After countless training sessions and facing numerous hardships, a crack at the top remains to be a rare possibility and therefore is cherished dearly and widely.
Some uncommon red cards on debuts
It is a rare spectacle to witness a goalkeeper receiving his marching orders since shot-stoppers don't usually partake in the rugged proceedings of the game. However, Iain Turner defied the odds by not only becoming one of the few goalkeepers ever to get a red card but also doing so on his Premier League debut.
Just nine minutes into the match, the Everton goalie was issued a straight red card for handling the ball outside the designated area.
Elsewhere, Florian Thauvin followed his shocker of a move to Tigres with an equally eventful debut. In his debut match for the Mexican outfit, Thauvin produced an awful tackle from behind, snapping down Omar Campos in the process.
This earned the Frenchman a straight red card, cutting short his debut in the 34th minute.
Similar to these incidents, many more notable names have been issued marching orders on their first outing. On that note, let's take a look at 5 top-level players who collected a red card on their professional debut for a side:
#5 Graeme Souness
Famous for his consistent criticism of Paul Pogba, Sky Sports pundit Graeme Souness was once a highly sought-after midfielder in the 80s. His illustrious playing career saw him turn out for some of the biggest British teams in existence.
Following a fruitful spell with Middlesbrough, the Scotsman enjoyed seven trophy-laden seasons with Liverpool, serving as club captain in three of them.
In 1986 and aged 33, Souness joined Rangers in his native Scotland. He was tasked with stabilizing the Teddy Bears' midfield as well as coaching them to success. His competitive debut for the club came in the opening match of the season against Hibernian.
Fans had been waiting desperately to see their marquee player-manager in action and expected nothing short of a blast from his debut.
However, the game turned out to be a violent one, with vicious tackles flying everywhere on the pitch. Being an aggressive hothead, Souness flung a dangerous tackle on George McCluskey in the 34th minute.
Having already received a booking, the Scottish midfielder was awarded a red card for his behavior, ending his debut in the first half itself.
#4 Laurent Koscielny
Laurent Koscielny has only had one club-level stint outside his native France. Nevertheless, this spell would prove to be the defining period of his distinguished career.
Having spent the initial six years of his professional journey with Guingamp, Tours, and Lorient, Koscielny earned a much-deserved upgrade to the Premier League in 2010. The French defender was signed by Arsenal for a nominal fee of €12.5m.
His debut at the Emirates was a much-awaited event, as Koscielny was touted to be the answer to the Gunners' defensive woes. Everything was going according to plan and Arsenal seemed to have secured a hard-earned point against Liverpool at Anfield.
However, in the dying embers of the game, Koscielny proceeded to induce two bookable offenses.
As a result, he was awarded with a red card in the 94th minute, capping off a decent performance with a flurry of terrible final decisions. Arsenal were able to hold off the lead, procuring a 1-1 draw. Koscielny went on to spend nine more years at the London club, becoming club captain in 2018.
Despite his initial red card getting more than redeemed by his later performances, Koscielny chose to draw curtains on his Arsenal career in an unceremonious manner. He recklessly tarnished his honorable status at the Emirates by appearing in a distasteful announcement video for Bordeaux in 2019.
#3 Jonathan Woodgate
The poster boy for bad debuts, Jonathan Woodgate's horrendous red card in his first match for Real Madrid has haplessly become the most notable instance of his career.
Having become a fan-favorite at St. James' Park, it came as a surprise to all of the Newcastle faithful when Woodgate was transferred to Los Blancos for an €18.3m fee.
It was supposed to be a dream come true for the Englishman. However, seeds of dismay were sewn when Woodgate turned up at the Bernabeu, injured. A full year after his signing, the Nunthorpe-born defender was finally given the medical green light to make his Real Madrid debut.
In his first appearance as a Madrid player, Woodgate scored an audacious own-goal and secured two bookable offenses to get himself sent off.
After a season's waiting, 66 minutes of game-time, an own goal to open the scoring for the opponent, and a red card was all that Woodgate could come up with for the fans of Los Merengues.
Injuries kept him from procuring a position in the first team and he was subsequently loaned out to Middlesbrough. His Real Madrid career could only span 14 appearances.
#2 Luis Suarez
Luis Suarez has shared a bumpy history with his national team, to say the least. The prolific striker was infamously banned for four months from all football-related activities in 2014, for inexplicably biting Giorgio Chiellini in a group stage match at the World Cup.
However, his red card-worthy antics have been with him since his international debut.
Having missed the chance to appear for Uruguay in the qualifying rounds of the 2007 U-20 World Cup, Suarez made his senior debut shortly after. In an international friendly against fellow South American side Colombia, Suarez was deployed alongside veterans Sebastian Abreu and Gonzalo Vargas.
The mercurial frontman had an average game, perfectly acceptable from a newbie player in his debut. However, close to the final whistle, Suarez was issued a red card, bringing his first expedition as an Uruguay player to an abrupt end.
Controversies would follow Suarez into his future international ventures but he has been able to establish himself as one of the best forwards of his generation.
#1 Lionel Messi
A successive international debut mishappening in the first place sees us revisit Lionel Messi's red card-inclusive maiden outing with the Argentina national team. After impressing for youth level teams, Messi was called up to the senior squad by then-manager Jose Pekerman to participate in a friendly against Hungary on 17th August 2005.
The former Barcelona talisman started on the bench with the first team being stacked with veteran players. In the 64th minute, with La Albiceleste leading the scoreline by 2-1, an 18-year-old Lionel Messi was brought on to seal the game.
Considering the hype that the youngster had mustered due to his stellar performances at club level, fans had been eagerly waiting for his debut in the Argentine colors.
However, his first international appearance lasted mere seconds, as he was shown a straight red card in the 66th minute. On his way to build an attack, Messi felt a tug on his back and recklessly swung his arm to deal with the offender.
Vilmos Vanczák, the Hungarian player in question, proceeded on to the ground in no time and a helpless Messi was given his marching orders. This marked a premature end to his much-anticipated debut.
To date, Lionel Messi has racked up only three red cards, with two of them coming on national duty. With his recent move to PSG signaling a new chapter in his glittering career, it would be interesting to see whether the magisterial Argentine manages to add to his scanty red card tally.